Monday, July 28, 2008

Too Pieces

I had a mini flare-up/obsession with Yaz this weekend...I missed the fact that they reformed for a summer tour in 2008. So I clambored all over that news, looking at photos of them now, youtube-ing stuff, reading interviews. Corrr...Yaz. I wore out Upstairs at Eric's in college, I did. My favorite song then and now is still "Too Pieces." (These are all of the lyrics)

Write me a letter a face in the hall
Hiding from someone afraid of the fall
And she's waiting for someone
to take her back to where she came from

And she'll wait alone for hours
she won't mind because there's someone

In the story she remembers she remembers in the letter
And the tears locked up inside her make her heart break open wider
Shuts her eyes and takes the picture from the wall

It is a weird song. The vocals start off very oddly--very off the (very driving) beat, introducing a new beat along with them, in fact, this beat that is really off, then synched, then kinda takes over. Those warring beats provide a lot of the energy...feel great when they merge.

There is just 50 seconds of vocals in the 3:15 song--chorus, verse, coda, everything, all collected in a lump that starts toward the beginning. So the momentum of the song is very strange. The vocals have a complete arc to them, lyrically (above) as well as musically, so you go on this very fast sad ride. The melody is beautiful, and very simple, despite the harmonies at spots (in the album version)--it's kind of like a demo or something. It opens up biggest, builds to the highest spot when Moyet sings "make her heart break open wider," then finishes on a beautiful low note, almost sentence-like, conversational. Then she disappears.

But the song keeps going. It's as if the song has to keep plugging ahead, after faltering--almost slowing to a stop--picking up the old tempo--when Moyet leaves, and as it does it gains its equilibrium back from the emotionality of the beginning, then picking up some of the mood and energy again, and carrying it along as it fades out, riding that great propulsive beat that's got so much emotionality to it with the simple notes overlaid... It is a great pop tune, it is. It's sad and bizarrely elegiac about what I don't know and I love how off-kilter it is.

There are lots of versions of it from the recent tour on Youtube. The sound quality on none of them is very good, but I kind like this version in Berlin. Hooray for Alison Moyet, hero to chubby singers everywhere, not to mention those who appreciate the lower register of the female voice.

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